12 Must-Know Rules for Managing Credit & Money in College
College mixes challenging classes, deep 3 a.m. talks with friends, and your first taste of adult life into an experience unlike any other. You discover who you are and where you want your life to take you. You’ll make some mistakes, too. Some make funny stories later (remember the night you tried to invent “wine pong” and ruined the common room carpet?). Others could mess up your life for years, like racking up thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Take charge of your college finances by acing this crash course.
1. Build credit one card at a time
Signing up for too many cards is a beginner mistake that can turn into financial disaster. Your credit score drops if you open lines of credit too fast (you look desperate for funds, which isn’t a good sign). With all those new cards in your wallet, you’re also tempted to overspend and dig yourself into debt. Take things slow by opening one card at a time, with plenty of time in between each new account. Here are Credit Sesame’s recommendations for the best credit cards.
2. Track your spending
By the 30th of the month, do you remember how much you spent on the 3rd? Neither do I. Use an app to note what you buy and catch money mistakes. Mint and You Need a Budget are good ones.
3. Put needs in the budget first
Credit Sesame found that 58% of parents said they’d discussed their child’s college contribution, so chances are, some of your money is going toward tuition or other college costs. That contribution, your phone, insurance, and food are the backbone of your budget. With that stable foundation in place, you’ll be in good shape to go out with friends, guilt-free. Your necessary expenses are the core of your life. Your ability to budget for them may affect whether you stay in college at all.
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9 Lucrative-Paying Graduate Degrees You Didn’t Know You Could Get for Free
For 80 percent of those who earn a graduate degree, it comes with a hefty price tag of $120,000 or more in student debt. But taking out massive loans isn’t the only way to get a high-paying graduate degree. If you look around, it’s easy to find fully funded grad programs that cover tuition plus stipends of $25,000 a year or more.
What makes these programs attractive is that they don’t require chasing down competitive external scholarships (though you will need a solid GPA and entrance exam scores). In many doctoral programs, as well as some master’s programs, students receive full funding in exchange for roughly 20 hours per week of research or teaching duties.[Related: Top 10 Big City Alternatives for Grads Who Are Burdened with Debt]
Of course, there is an opportunity cost to not working full-time. The trade-off is worth it to many students, though, who are able to finish grad school debt-free and ready to move into a lucrative career. We’ve put together a list of grad degrees that you can get for free, looking at average salary and stipend, plus the prevalence of funding and potential job opportunities.
Average master’s salary: $69,698
Average Ph.D. salary: $88,397
Average annual stipend for funded programs: $26,570
Engineering grads are in high demand, with loads of career options spanning chemical, electrical, environmental and civil engineering. Depending on the program, financial support may be tied to academic merit. Schools with funded programs include the University of Illinois, University of Virginia, Rutgers School of Engineering and Michigan State University.
2. Physical Sciences
Average master’s salary: $72,500
Average Ph.D. salary: $90,300
Average annual stipend for funded programs: $26,034
Many chemistry and physics graduate programs are fully funded, both at the master’s and Ph.D. levels. These degrees can open doors to a variety of highly paid careers. Funded programs can be found at schools like University of Texas at Austin, University of Michigan and University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
3. Biological Sciences
Average master’s salary: $70,080
Average Ph.D. salary: $83,051
Average annual stipend for funded programs: $29,540
Biological sciences encompass a wide variety of fields, including biology, ecology, biochemistry and pharmacology. Plus, you’ll find a good selection of funded master’s programs, which are harder to find in non-scientific tracks.
It’s not just top tier schools funding graduate degrees. Many smaller universities and state schools also provide financial support. Check out schools like University of Massachusetts Boston, University of Delaware, University of San Francisco and University of Florida.
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